Notes from the desk of peace activist Polly Mann (b. Nov. 19, 1919)

Mexican children incarcerated at the U.S. border

Some Central American children coming into the United States are being stopped at the border and are being returned by the U.S. Border Patrol to Mexico or placed in custody. The transfer is contrary to both U.S. policy and an outstanding diplomatic agreement with Mexico, which does not allow children from other countries who are traveling without adult guardians to be returned to Mexico. However, the Trump administration has shut down the border to most asylum applicants because of the coronavirus. The number of children expelled is unclear because the Mexican government has not provided such information. A border patrol agent stated that his agency had been directed to contact the Mexican consular office each time an unauthorized child who was not Mexican was expelled. Lawyers from KIND, an immigrant advocacy organization, reported some Central American children were expelled into Mexico and were still there. Some parents have had to wait days or weeks to find out if their children, without their consent, were still in custody there.

THE SAME MAN: George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) and Evelyn A. Waugh

Both were from what Orwell called “the British lower-upper middle class” and their era was that of the Spanish Civil War and they are both important historical figures. They each left accounts of their survival in the English private school system, called “public schools” there. It’s a harsh portrait of the helpless and continual sadism and snobbery of which they were victims. Blair at a later age confronted the bully who was attacking him. As for Waugh, he was always brash and ready to fight.
The world they lived in after the war was changing. Orwell became a zealot for justice and Waugh came to know how objectification, sensuality and aimlessness distort one’s humanity. The Catholic peace advocate Dorothy Day once had a four-hour meal with Evelyn Waugh during which they debated whether the poor or the rich had the best of it in the world.
There are nine chapters in the book, alternating from Orwell to Waugh and back again. Dorothy Day recognized these two writers first and foremost as workers, laboring with their hands, putting many hours into their craft. For her, anything of goodness, beauty and truth were the fruits of God-given vocations. Although the two men died over 50 years ago, their place in history is assured.

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